Panama Canal


History of the Panama Canal

The Panama Canal was one of the most important endeavors of the early 1900’s. The Panama Canal was built on a land bridge that connected South America and North America. While the US is the country that did in fact wind up building the canal it was not the first attempt to build a canal in the area.

Several other European countries attempted to build a like canal and failed either through construction issues or through negotiating the terms with the then Colombian province. The state of Panama was created in 1903 when Panama broke away from Columbia.

The Panama Canal made it possible to easily transport goods and increase trade for those countries living oceans away. The canal offers an easy route between the Pacific and Atlantic oceans.

The Controversy

During President Teddy Roosevelt’s presidency the canal negotiations began with Columbia. While the treaty made it through the first vote the Columbian senate knocked down the negotiations. Panama was encouraged by Mr. Roosevelt to succede from Columbia. As part of the rebel’s process a Navy ship was offered for support.

The USS Nashville came in and assisted the rebels in return the newly freed Panamanians turned over the rights to the Panama Canal Zone to the US.


The Building of the Canal

The process of building the canal took 10 years. At the time it was complete in 1913 it was considered a technological wonder. The locks and the dams functioned as they should. The building of the canal was a horrendous affair that claimed many lives to disease and accidents.

According to hospital records over five thousand people that worked on the canal out of the estimated seventy five thousand women and men that worked on the project died from disease alone. The project was the biggest endeavor any country had taken on to date in the modern world.

The Value of the Canal

The canal paid for itself as far as the US was concerned during WWII when the pacific fleet of the US Navy was able to use the canal to get the necessary repairs. The Canal was large enough to hold even the largest of the fleets aircraft carriers (although the lamp posts had to be removed along the canal).

The canal shaved off over four thousand nautical miles for cargo traveling from the Pacific to the Atlantic. The value of the Panama Canal has been realized over and over again.

The Panama Canal was turned over to the Panamanians in 1999 after 100 hundred years of American control.


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Risto is the founder and editor of, where you can find travel related articles from around the world.

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